From Monroe County to the Tahquamenon Falls, the state is brimming with freshly grown delights. These delicious fruits and vegetables will not only bring flavor to meal times, they can also pack a health punch.
With so much fresh produce to choose from, it helps to know how to pick the best of the bunch. Here are some tried and true tips to make sure you’re bringing home the freshest and healthiest Michigan produce this summer.
- The old adage is true: an apple a day really can keep the doctor away. Packed with fiber and antioxidants, eating an apple every day can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and some types of cancer. Pick apples that are deeply colored, naturally shiny, firm and heavy for their size.
- Rich in beta-carotene and fiber, apricots support digestive health. Apricots should be fragrant and slightly soft, but not mushy.
- One serving of blueberries can provide 25 percent of recommended Vitamin C. Avoid red or green blueberries, choose instead ones that are solid blue, firm and dry. Be sure to check the bottom of the basket to make sure there aren’t any spoiled or crushed berries.
- As one of nature’s best providers of melatonin, adding cherries to your diet will help you get a good night’s sleep. Cherries should be plump, shiny and dark in color. When shopping, check the stems: cherries with intact stems will have a longer shelf life.
- One of the largest fruit crops in the United States, peaches are filled with more than 10 different vitamins, including A & C which aid with vision. Pick peaches that are fragrant, deeply colored and firm but slightly soft to the touch.
- Pears can pack a powerful punch! The phytonutrients in pears provide anti-inflammatory benefits and the high concentration of dietary fiber lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Pears are usually picked before they are fully ripe, so choose ones that are free of bruises and are starting to ripen just below the stem.
Here are additional tips on picking the best fruit.
- Packed with antioxidants, asparagus should have firm, smooth and brightly-colored stalks with compact tips.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower contain very high concentrations of nutrients such as Vitamin C, folic acid and fiber. When choosing these vegetables, look for firm stalks and tight florets. Avoid yellowed or flowering florets.
- Adding carrots to your diet has long been known to help improve vision, but this orange delight can also promote healthier skin. Carrots should be firm, smooth and without rootlets, the white strings that will sometimes grow from the vegetable.
- The staple of the summer BBQ, corn is filled with dietary fiber and contains less than half the amount of sugar of an apple. Pick corn with bright green husks and that are moist, but not slimy, silk. Be sure to peel back the husk to make sure kernels are plump and not dry.
- The health benefits of leafy green vegetables are many and varied. A serving of kale can contain more calcium than a glass of milk, romaine lettuce is high in folic acid and spinach is one of the top sources of iron in the vegetable world. Leafy greens should have fresh, crisp leaves. When choosing greens, avoid ones that are starting to wilt or are slimy.
- Bell peppers come in a variety of colors, each with their own set of health benefits. However, they all contain capsaicin, which eases inflammation, can reduce bad cholesterol and help control diabetes. Peppers should be firm, naturally shiny and feel heavy for their size.
Here are more tips on how to pick the best vegetables.